Rafael Nadal names Novak Djokovic the greatest player in history

Rafael Nadal praised his greatest rival in his latest interview

by Jovica Ilic
Rafael Nadal names Novak Djokovic the greatest player in history
© Julian Finney / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Speaking about Novak Djokovic, a 22-time Major winner Rafael Nadal praised the Serb with an ultimate honor, calling him the greatest player in tennis history. The numbers are on Djokovic's side, collecting 24 Majors, seven ATP Finals crowns, 40 Masters 1000 shields, eight year-end no.

1 honors and over 400 weeks on the ATP throne. Nadal admitted that, applauding his great rivals and praising his game and personality despite errors from the past. Rafa and Novak kicked off their incredible rivalry at Roland Garros 2006.

Sixteen years later, two legends met at the same event, remaining competitive and battling for notable titles well after turning 35. Nadal and Djokovic have embraced only ten matches after 2016, two in the Major finals.

Rafael Nadal & Novak Djokovic, Roland Garros 2022© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Rafael Nadal honored Novak Djokovic as the greatest player in history.

Three years ago, Novak ousted Rafa in the Roland Garros semi-final, becoming the first player with multiple triumphs over the king of clay in Paris.

The draw arranged their duel in the quarter-final a year later, and Nadal served revenge, scoring a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 triumph en route to his 22nd Major trophy. Rafa reached his 15th semi-final at his beloved Major following a rock-solid night on Court Philippe-Chatrier, dethroning Novak after four hours and 12 minutes.

It was their 59th meeting, and the Spaniard reduced the deficit to 30-29. Also, Rafa toppled Novak for the eighth time in their ten Roland Garros duels, dominating sets one and three and prevailing in the fourth.

Novak Djokovic & Rafael Nadal, Roland Garros 2022© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Novak wasted a set point in the fourth set, squandering the advantage and allowing Rafa to seal the deal in the tie break.

It remains their last duel, and the next could come in Indian Wells from the second round, with Nadal standing outside the top-600 following a severe hip injury. The Spaniard has played only seven matches since the beginning of 2023, embracing the most extended break of his career but doing everything to return and chase more titles.

On the other hand, Novak is the world's best player at 36, winning three titles from four Major titles in 2023 and leaving the young rivals behind. "The image Novak projects is worse than what he really is. He is a good person who makes mistakes but is much better than he looks.

Novak breaks his racquet but returns at his best in the next point. That's why he is the most successful player in history. The numbers do not lie; Novak is the best player ever," Rafael Nadal said.

Rafael Nadal Novak Djokovic